St. Louisans Offer Free Bike Helmets to Raise Hell About Traffic Violence

Bicyclists duct-taped "complimentary helmets" along South Grand to urge city leaders to act on traffic safety

Sean Milford has biked to his job in downtown St. Louis from his home in Tower Grove South for years. Lately, doing so has felt unsafe.

At least eight people were killed by motorists in the city this summer including one pedestrian and a cyclist on South Grand.

Milford and several other concerned bicyclists are fed up, so they hung signs along South Grand to raise awareness about the issue and call on city leaders to take action.

“We’re just all frustrated at what we’re seeing: the inaction of leaders,” Milford says. “We wanted to make a statement to get people talking about it.”

The signs taped to several posts along South Grand read like a satirical city notice. “Complimentary” bike helmets hang next to each.

“As of October 2022, we hereby suggest that all pedestrians crossing any St. Louis street should wear helmets while crossing such street until further notice” the signs read.

After the death of bicyclist Danyell McMiller, 47, on September 6, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said police would ramp up traffic enforcement in accident-prone areas.

The concerned residents’ posters cited how dozens of pedestrians were killed and hundreds more were injured by motorists in St. Louis city and county last year.

“In a continued effort to be perceived as caring about traffic violence, we are considering studying the issue,” the posters continue. “In the meantime, please enjoy this complimentary helmet to wear while crossing the street...” 

In a conversation with reporters last month, Jones said St. Louis needs a citywide traffic-calming study.

“We want to do a citywide traffic-calming study to make sure that everyone is safe and that we don’t get these little piecemeal projects depending on which ward you live in,” Jones says.

Nick Desideri, a spokesman for Jones, clarified Monday that the mayor's office would like to see a citywide "plan" and not a study.

"We don't need another study that sits on the shelf," Desideri says. "We want an actual plan that helps us apply for federal grants and moves us away from the ward-by-ward system."

St. Louis has historically done traffic studies by ward or neighborhood, with the cost of each study sourced out of ward capital funds.

Milford said he hopes to see city leaders take action. Maybe the city could build protected bike lanes? Or take a stronger stance on traffic enforcement? He's not a traffic expert, he says. He just wants something to change.

“We really want the city to step up and do something,” Milford says.

About The Author

Monica Obradovic

Monica Obradovic is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times.
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